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Intermediary liability fears run high in Australia as CNN restricts access to Facebook page

News outlet CNN avoids becoming a casualty of an Australian court’s ruling on intermediary liability, and it won’t be the last.

As a clear sign of news publishers in Australia fearing intermediary liability, US-based news organisation CNN has restricted Australians' access to its Facebook page, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The decision comes weeks after Australia's High Court ruled that news publishers will be held liable for Facebook comments published underneath their posts, regardless of if the original article or post is defamatory in nature. The apex court's ruling has been termed as a blow to the freedom of expression of internet users by legal experts. While CNN's readership in Australia is not very high, lawyers predict other publishers could also restrict their accounts to avoid liability. What was the High Court judgement? Earlier this month, Australia's High Court ruled that administrators of Facebook pages and news publishers will be liable for any defamatory content (posted by users as comments) on their websites and their Facebook pages. The ruling was made in a defamation case filed by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller against multiple news organisations. In 2016, Voller's images were used in multiple stories on the mistreatment of prisoners in Australian prisons which led to false claims about his criminal charges. Subsequently, Voller filed a defamation suit against news organisations alleging that they should be held liable for comments posted underneath their articles. The altercation between Facebook and CNN According to WSJ, Facebook had refused to help CNN disable all comments on its pages in Australia. Instead, CNN would have to set restrictions on its posts individually as per…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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